Monday, November 12, 2012

The Greatest Happiness of the Greatest Number Part II

Part II
Preview Questions
What are some detractors of well-being in Atc? What is understood by the expression, "engaging work atmosphere"? How can Atcos produce in a service-oriented industry?

There are several tell tale signs that accurately predict the extent of the presence of detractors to well-being. An unusual circumstance or series of repetitive events happening in the workplace is an indication of the degree of conglomerate or collective well-being.  Have there been any unusual events at the workplace within the past year, such as a natural disaster, a suicide, an atco having a sudden and serious illness, an accident? How many runway incursions have occurred within the past 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, a year?
Is the level of absenteeism persistently high? How many atcos report for duty but who remark that they are demotivated and would rather not work (presenteeism)? The annals of organization reveal that persistent problems in the workplace is a strong indication of inefficient management. This implies that the methodology of administration is flawed due to the absence of suitable strategy.

Statue of Rodin's Thinker, Metro Line 13 Varenne Station, Paris


The reactionary tendency to increase the rules, or to add more managers, or even to change the structure of management without adequate evaluation further diminishes the role of wellbeing. This is due to management's view of the social assets and the narrow projection of the reins of Air traffic control.
Anyone can quickly evaluate the effectiveness of Atc governance by reflecting upon the following 3 questions: What is the current relationship between management and controllers? What is a manager's view of Air traffic control? What happens to a controller after 15 - 20 years of dedicated service? Indeed, the responsibility of managing Atc is not an issue to be taken lightly.
If managers prefer to remain clueless to the methods of increasing the greatest happiness of the greater number of the social assets, the overall well-being of the Atc units could degenerate into organizational disorder and misfortune, a phrase coined by the founding fathers of social and organizational psychology ( Frederick W. Taylor, 1884; Lewin, 1933). The social assets are no less important than the physical assets. Atcos therefore are not solely responsible for their personal well-being on the job.
Very often, we look at the end result first to envisage plausible solutions, but if we really want our Atc unit to develop, to grow into an organization of happy controllers we need to exhibit a bottom-up view of the problems that persist. Our annals of organization show that at the core of these problems is inefficiency in management. The extent to which management is inefficient determines the extent to which problems with Atcos persist.
If a controller is unhappy about a work policy she should feel free to express her concern without prejudice. If a controller is unhappy she should find support in at least 1 coworker. If a controller is unhappy she should find relief in a service provided by the governing arm of her local Atc unit. Those aspects are what make up an engaging work atmosphere (Kahn, 1990). The availability of P elements: psychological resources, physiological and physical resources interact to contribute toward increased wellbeing and engagement at work.
A happy controller will produce more. True, there is no production line in Atc but according to research done by Gronroos and Ojasalo (2002), productivity in a service industry entails the efficient transformation of resources into valuable services for consumers. In the Atc scenario, the controller and her assistant cannot acheive maximum transformation if any of the resources are insufficient, that is, any of the P elements.

service productivity = F(efficiency) in Atc
What is efficiency in Atc?

The central theme of this blog is that happiness at work is important. We want all of the controllers in the workplace to be happy. Well-being at work is a conglomeration of the well-being of individual workers. It is derived from the interaction of organizational and psychological elements. From Part I, controllers rated recognition and appreciation as the most important motivating factor according to a Bayesian analysis of a job satisfaction scale. If you had to include wages, where will you put this category?
Controllers should be duly compensated for their intense use of cognitive skills. Thus, wages aptly fall under the category of compensation and benefits. While they feel strongly about equitable compensation, an initial study on controllers revealed that monetary compensation is not the most important factor that contributes toward their job satisfaction and by extension their wellbeing. Studies by the economist Richard Easterlin showed that increasing wealth does not automatically imply increasing happiness, even decreasing in some cases.
Our controllers may not be economists but the collated view of money being relatively important to social psychological factors highlights a gnawing truth: that working conditions must be in a desirable state. Over the next few weeks, focus will be placed on detractions in Atc that originate as part of the workplace environment but moreso as part of the workplace culture. We will consider the following: Why is absenteeism as well as presenteeism so prevalent in some Atc units and not in others? What is meant by the bottom-up approach analysis in the context of Atc?

How do these images help us understand Bottom-up Processing in Atc?

Reddit Digg Share on Tumblr Delicious StumbleUpon Follow Me on Pinterest Print Friendly and PDF


  1. As a retired controller and now a Life Coach, I find your discussion of controllers' well-being very interesting. Happiness can be thought of as an electro-chemical process in the brain. As such, there are things a person can do to "adjust" their brain chemistry (no, I'm not talking drugs - although that can work too). Things like NLP, EFT and hypnosis can be natural ways to generate happiness.

  2. I have just discovered this blog. Really interesting, really. You should take a look at the ATCO's situation in Spain. I'll answer the three questions: What is the current relationship between management and controllers? Inexistent, bad, or even personal hate. What is a manager's view of Air traffic control? Lazy incompetent unuseful people, if they could be considered as people. What happens to a controller after 15 - 20 years of dedicated service? Is humillated and after 20 or 25 years, is fired.

    Thank you for the blog.